Most people will agree that what makes an action moral or immoral is its effect or intended effect upon others. Stealing is wrong because it imposes financial hardship on someone else. It is illegal to go shopping in your socks and skivvies because, let’s be honest, no one wants to see that. Traffic laws are in place to prevent property damage, injury, and death on the roadways. In less cut-and-dried cases, what seems like small potatoes outside of context can make all the difference where the law applies.
Take, for instance, texting at the wheel. People may get justifiably annoyed at you for texting in the hallway or while you’re on a social call, but it can probably be established that texting is not inherently wrong. Texting while you drive, however, is a different matter. Many places have made laws against pairing the two activities; and the statistics are increasingly supportive of that course of action. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducted a study that revealed texting makes a person 23 times more likely to crash or nearly crash than non-distracted drivers. The average amount of time a texter spends looking away from the road is 4.6 seconds, which, at 55 miles per hour, is enough time to clear a football field. In addition, a 2007 study by Clemson University showed that those who text or tinker around with their iPods are 10% more likely to drift from their lanes. The evidence suggests that texting and driving is at least highly inconsiderate.
It isn’t often that drunk drivers get to claim moral superiority, but they are certainly within their rights to do so when they are compared to those who text and drive. The impact on focus that results from fiddling with technology impairs driving even more than does driving with pink elephants on the brain (and texting accidents are more often the result of a conscious decision than are drunk driving accidents, which are caused by serious errors in impaired judgment). And yet, Consumer Reports estimates that 13% of American drivers text at the wheel. The American Journal of Public Health reports that 16,000 deaths can be traced to texting while driving between 2001 and 2007, but many people manage to justify this behavior to themselves.
The road is a dangerous place even without technological distractions. Is there any help for texting accidents in Utah (or wherever cars coexist with cell phones)?
It may be some small consolation to know that even in places where texting at the wheel isn’t outlawed outright, distracted driving is frowned upon by the law and can lead to stiffer penalties when it contributes to a texting accident. The author of the accident, if their fault can be proven, may be liable to pay the medical costs of anyone harmed by the act they committed. The indemnity is more easily acquired when the victim has the help of a personal injury attorney to advocate for them to higher authorities, since the details of an accident are open to dispute. An attorney will also be able to bridge the gap between the action of texting while driving and legal code, showing what made the action immoral.
The existence of moral grey area shouldn’t prevent the victim of a texting accident from getting real compensation. The time to take a stand against irresponsible driving is now. Call Christensen & Hymas today at (801) 506-0800 for a free consultation.